Fitness and Health Podcasts To Inspire and Inform


I have to admit, I used to be a massive advocate and consumer of fitness and health podcasts. I loved Jillian Michaels and Janice's witty, smartass banter that covered types of plant based milks, the reasons particular exercises and routines paid dividends and mindset adjustments. As the length of episodes increased and it became more about Jillian's parenting, it became an exhausting test of patience. So, I took a lengthy break but I'm back listening to pods for inspiration and here's my  pick of what you should get your earbuds wrapped around.

My own Core Integrity podcast, featuring interviews with gut, mind, body and spirit role models and practitioners.

Hurdle, in which Emily Abbate chats with wellness entrepreneurs and leaders like the co-founder of Headspace.

YogaPeeps is a lifelong love affair. Though it's no longer producing new episodes, every single episode is eminently listenable and full of yoga wisdom from teachers who live, breathe and love the practice. Lara Hedin is a wonderful host.

TEDTalks Health gets across astonishing facts and information in bite-sized podcast episodes. This will make for excellent conversation starters if nothing else.

Nutrition Matters takes a no-bull approach to food and the mental, physical and spiritual approach to a nutritious life. Paige Smathers is a registered dietitian and nutritionist who interviews experts.

The Nutrition Diva's Quick and Dirty Tips For Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous

Oh I love this one so much and it's so short and easy to listen to. It really is a quick dive into a topic, ingredient or trend. Monica Reinagel is a joy to tune in to for advice, intelligence and simple, memorable tips.


Are Nutritional Supplements The Key To Beauty, Gut Health & Mood Maintenance?

vitamins hair skin health

I have long taken vitamins in whatever form they come – tablets, capsules, liquids, powders. If it’s touted to be good for me, there’s every chance I’ll swallow it. I have even been known to make a thick paste of turmeric and gulp it down, or spoonfuls of chilli powder, an entire ginger root chomped through and even garlic bulbs.
I’m sort of the Bear Grylls of nutrition.
When I was a teenager, I had really bad acne. There were days I wouldn’t go to school because my sister had stolen my makeup and I refused to go anywhere without covering up the spots as thoroughly as I could. To this day, I’m super fussy about my skin and if I even get the whisper of a spot, I change what I’m using immediately. At the moment, I’m using Formula 10.06, Medik8 Vitamin C serum, Gernetic and Kryolan makeup. All of these are doing wonders for my skin and none of them will break the bank. I’m also undergoing laser for pigmentation caused by sun damage (and I had a skin check last week to make sure none of my freckles warrants concern).
Back to nutrition though. There’s every reason to believe that clear, radiant skin begins with gut health. Mood and brain function are also related to the gut flora and so is your overall energy. What you eat affects it, but also HOW you eat and your overall lifestyle. Under pressure, I can eat too much and too quickly. This is bloating and makes me feel lethargic and crappy. No matter how many superfoods you eat or how perfectly you’ve calculated your macronutrient intake, if you feel guilty or afraid of food, you eat that guilt and shame and that affects your guts and your mood too.
vitamins hair skin health

So, this is a holistic approach that you must take if you want to feel good, look good, and know you’re functioning in a way that this short life is lived with full energy and joy.
Coming up in May 2019, Melbourne Museum has a show devoted to gut health: Your Mind, Your Microbes.
I’ve been taking supplements daily to improve my overall energy and especially since becoming vegan a year ago, I am mindful that my diet doesn’t always meet my protein requirements, or I overdo the vegetables and legumes and end up feeling bloated and blah. I’ve been taking a probiotic and also magnesium powder daily, as recommended by a naturopath at Natural Chemist. You can get a free health check and ask any questions via their online or phone chat with a naturopath.
I’m also taking Arbonne powder supplements – pomegranate flavoured energy satchets are brilliant for the full spectrum of B vitamins and the magnesium/fibre supplement is great for calm, post-workout muscle maintenance and also improving sleep quality.
Whether you need supplements or not is up to you. I’d rather take them and know I’m plugging any holes that my diet isn’t meeting but I have had a doctor tell me I’m essentially peeing out all my money. Each to their own. Keep in mind that there’s so much we don’t know about the brain, gut and the body as a whole though so only you can know if what you’re eating, drinking, swallowing and doing is making you feel fit, well and alive. If not, change. Send me an email or post on Twitter letting me know if you take supplements and what works for you.

Denise Payne: Fearlessness And Mercy

denise payne yoga bali

In the 1970s, as a teenager, Denise Payne was introduced to Kundalini Yoga by her teacher Sat Jiwan Singh. It became more than “a life saver”. Yoga became her life’s work through practice and teaching. Many Australian and international yogis have met Denise through her regular Power Yoga and Yin classes at The Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali. When not speaking (not entirely fluent) Indonesian or Sanskrit, there is the obvious accent that serves to remind that Denise is originally from Phoenix, Arizona.

It was in Portland, Oregon – her home of 10 years - that she owned Yoga Bhoga and campaigned for the working rights of yoga teachers to continue as contractors. This is also where her son, 14-year-old Charlie was born.

Denise has a rich and nuanced understanding of yoga which culminates in classes where stories from the Bhagavad Gita are seamlessly interwoven with smart anatomical and energetic cueing, sutras and explorations into bandhas, mudras and pranayama.

denise payne yoga bali
At 55, Denise has become even more physically strong and her inversion practice continues unabated. Her motto of being fearless, brave and loving life emanates beyond words and into practice. She holds regular Yoga Teacher Trainings in Jakarta and Ubud, and has travelled worldwide to host training, workshops and courses. Throughout the year, she runs Yoga Teacher Training, enabling Yoga Barn regulars and those who are new to her teaching to be enriched by her experience in yoga practice, teaching and teacher training for over 30 years. 

Whether it is her thorough knowledge of the chakras and nadis, or the art of mudra, there are many aspects of yoga which are not commonly taught either in classes nor the standard 200 hour Yoga Teacher Trainings in Australia. Denise’s particular focus is on the koshas and their relation to every other aspect of yoga and life. The body, breath, mind, inner wisdom and sense of bliss are integral to the experience of living yoga on and off the mat. In Bali, the spiritual life is not an afterthought – it is in the morning and evening rituals, the approach to nature, food, dance, art and life. This has been attracting Australian yogis, surfers and spiritual seekers for decades.

While Denise has best been known for her Power Yoga practice, chakras and mudras workshops over the past 8 years at Yoga Barn, and prior through One Song in Portland, she has also won over many yogis with her meditative approach to Yin Yoga. She describes the experience of Yin as “a deeper conversation with the body and the self”.

Yoga has become even more of a sanctuary for Denise now that she has moved back to the United States after 8 years of living in Ubud, Bali. As anyone who has faced a major move or life event knows, the practice of yoga can provide a sense of groundedness in uncertain and challenging times.

Denise took time between teaching, planning an upcoming Ubud Teacher Training and finalising her book on Yin Yoga to answer questions.

How old were you and how did you first discover yoga?

I was 8 years old when I first met my teacher and 15 when I was first introduced to Kundalini yoga. I was kind of a sick kid that wasn't allowed to do anything really, and being introduced to that was literally a life saver.

Do you feel that you chose to be a teacher or that it was almost inevitable once you immersed yourself in study with your teacher?

Teaching has always come naturally to me, and my teacher, Sat Jiwan Singh was very pushy and determined to get me teaching, as well. But I never thought yoga would turn into what it is today. Back in the 70's you did it in a back room, and didn't really talk about it to friends!

Your classes weave the yamas, niyamas, stories of the Bhagavad Gita, the yoga sutras, chakras and koshas into a vinyasa context. Is this a challenge?

The wonderful qualities of yoga open us up to always learning and studying some new aspect. As I continue to grow and evolve, so do the elements I bring into a class. I do strongly believe in the power of the combination of philosophy and asana, and it's always a work in progress. 
When you first moved to Ubud, you initially planned to write rather than teach. How did you come to join Yoga Barn?

I did want to write, but was really without direction! About 3 months in, I was lucky enough to become friends with Meghan Pappenheim, one of the founders of The Yoga Barn. The rest is history!

What are the challenges of teaching short-term, international yogis in Bali?

I really appreciate this question. There is a lot to be said for the regular students I had at my schools in Portland. It was a natural progression for us over the years. In any given class during the week the most incredible yogis would show up to practice. In Ubud, I feel more of a sense of urgency with students at times. If I feel I really have something to offer any particular student I'll ask them how long they're in town for, I'll give them homework and always ask that they email me with their progress. I also ask for requests before every class to ensure I'm working on what they want to work on; maybe I have some fresh ideas for their technique.

The physical asana practice can take a toll on the body. Have you altered your practice at all to prevent injuries or overuse?

Honestly. Cat, it's yoga that helps me recover from injuries from doing things other than yoga! I just turned 55 and I' so grateful for the practice. It's something I'm always making progress with and there’s always work to be done. I'm actually relearning handstands right now to change my technique. I think it would be tough to do that if I didn't have all the years of yoga keeping me strong.

Yin yoga is being embraced by major gym chains here in Australia. Can you tell me what role yin yoga plays in the system of yoga compared to styles such as Power Yoga and typical Hatha yoga?

That's really cool to hear that it's becoming more mainstream in your neck of the woods. Yin is so new, relatively speaking, that interpretation is up for grabs and just about anyone can teach it. I think the tattvas, or principles of yin yoga, are essentially the same as a yang practice in many ways. Stillness, holding poses, finding the edge in a pose can be translated equally in both styles. The breath, as I do recommend a soft breath in a yang practice, the meditative qualities, as well can play a roll. Because yin transcends the yang elements of the physical body, slowly creeping into those nooks and crannies of the plastic parts, the role of yin becomes more about a deeper conversation with the body and the self. I love to support a daydreamy type atmosphere, in fact, and allow for the students minds to wander. This might get some thumbs down in the comment box. But, seriously, Cat, daydreaming is a lost art. We are so busy being mindful, or scrolling, or whatever. Yin offers the perfect environment for such an important and healing practice like mind-wandering/mindlessness.

Tell me about Waheguru and how this affects your approach to daily life and meditation?

Waheguru translates to Wonderful Teacher. Everything is Waheguru. Samadhi, the 8th limb of Astanga yoga is Samadhi, which means to See Equally. To see equally, one must let go of any judgement and increase their compassion 1000 fold. When you begin to see equally, you see that everything is your wonderful teacher with no judgement. Waheguru!

One of my most memorable moments in class with you was being half-way into the splits and you recounted the story of Hanuman leaping.

I'm so glad you remember that! The philosophy is vast and many teachers play with it so well! I have my moments, glad you were there to witness one of them. But me, I'm a great big chakra geek. It's how I see students, how i sequence, and most of the language I use in class revolves around the system of the sacred chambers. Every now and again I'll bust out a story, a few weeks ago it was Trivikrama, however my chakras studies never end, so I always have something new to work with in class. There are so many dimensions to the physical practice and so many elements to focus on for students. That’s the magic of hatha yoga.
The book that you had intended to write when you first moved to Ubud... how’s that going?

Well that book will get written someday. In the meantime I have a gorgeous book coming out on Yin yoga and myofascial release work. It’s based on a class I've been teaching for almost 15 years. Hopefully it's in full swing by the time this article is published.

Thankyou. Waheguru.


denise payne yoga teacherWaheguru.

Denise is holding Yoga Teacher Training at The Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali in September. More details on her site at http://www.denisepayneyoga.com

Stress Hormones: How to combat belly fat, bloating and blemishes

stress hormones belly fat blemishes acne health
In over 10 years of teaching, I've been asked the same few questions repeatedly. Two of the most common are:

  • How do I fix blemishes/acne/dry skin?
  • How do I target excess belly weight?

Now, as we all should know, I don't buy into body hate and shaming and guilt. Women naturally have curves and a tendency to hold weight around the belly and hips because women are designed to create, house and nourish new human life within their bodies. That's pretty amazing. Whether you choose to have children or not, your body is engineered for it.

That said, there's a fine balance to find between functional and healthy amount of particular hormones and the sort of irregularity and imbalance that will lead to a cycle of nasty symptoms that indicate hormonal problems and that lead to MORE hormonal imbalances if not addressed through lifestyle.

The culprit - in all my discussions with medical and natural health practitioners, and in my personal experience - is the stress hormone, cortisol. An excess of cortisol leads to inflammation within the body, creating dramas with digestion, sleep, mood, acne and blemishes, insatiable appetite, cravings, bloating and weight gain particularly around the belly and hips.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands (in the kidney area). It isn't all bad! Cortisol is produced to enable the body to handle and respond to danger. It is also heightened during exercise or at the beginning of the day to put the body into a more alert state.


Too much cortisol results in a number of symptoms, including weight gain around the face and abdomen, thin and easily broken skin, acne, bones more vulnerable to fracture and breaking, depressed mood, increased facial hair and irregular periods.

Some medications can mimic cortisol, including some asthma medication and topical steroid creams or steroidal drugs.

What can you do to prevent excessive cortisol and a crappy mood, bloated belly and tired, dull skin? Here's some simple steps. Take one at a time, or all at once:

  • Stop the extra long workouts. No wonder your body believes your under pressure and in need of hormones to cope with stress if you're forcing yourself through training regimes that run over 90 minutes
  • Cut the coffee. Sure, addictive, sure. But if you want to sleep and look 10 years younger, stop.
  • Eat wholefoods. Organic wherever possible, but maintain a diet where at least 80% of your food is a plant that you can recognise as exactly the same as it was on the tree or in the earth (powdered beetroot doesn't count)
  • Take high-quality supplements if your diet is restricted at all (vegan protein, omega 3 supplements, vitamin D if you don't get much sun, multivitamins)
  • Did I mention Omega 3 supplements?
  • Eat a high fibre diet to maintain good gut health
  • Take adaptogenic herbs: licorice root tea or medicinal mushrooms are easy to find at health food stores or online
  • Take 5 minutes every morning and/or evening to sit quietly, eyes closed and breathe fully into the belly then slowly out again. Set a phone timer if you need.
  • Get away from screens. Put the phone down.
  • Go to yoga - any type.
  • Do pilates
  • Dance
  • Laugh
  • Omega 3 supplements (seriously, though)
Image from Wholefood Merchants, Melbourne

New To Vegan Life: Meeting Nutritional Needs


vegan nutrition

Are you a Negan (New Vegan)? Welcome to the club.

I have been eating mostly plant-based meals for over a decade but it is a new choice to consume a purely vegan diet. I had been safe in my knowledge that chicken, fish and yoghurt were enabling me to earn top marks on my blood test results. B12? Iron? Calcium? Gold stars!

While it can take a little more planning and awareness around combining plant based foods to ensure you are meeting your nutritional needs for optimum health, once you understand which foods have the highest quality of calcium, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc and protein, you can go wild with exploring flavours knowing that within each week, you're ticking all the boxes.
plant based cat woods

For me, I know the foods I really love and rely upon for essential nutrients, but I have a bad habit of not incorporating enough variety and adventure into my meals. I can get into a rut of the same thing daily for a week! That said, have you discovered purple sweet potato? If any food is worthy of a 12-step program, purple sweet potato is it.

Still. I digress.

Plant Based Meals For Inspiration and Convenience

To save myself from my own boring routines, I have ordered a Soulara delivery to get me through just over a week. I hugely recommend this meal delivery service to anyone and everyone, whether you're vegan or not. Having trialled a range of meal delivery services over the past few years, I can honestly say this is a no-fails option that is totally fresh, totally organic, and genuinely delicious. It doesn't feel like diet food and the serving sizes will genuinely satiate your appetite (not aeroplane-meal sized like some delivery services).
soulara meal delivery

The great benefit of a meal delivery service for me (and you!) is that I can explore a variety of vegan meals and get a true sense of what I really love so that I'm inspired to get into the kitchen and create meals based on those flavours and ingredients. When I go to Ubud, Bali, I eat purely plant based meals and mostly raw food too. It is energising, it connects me deeply to the earth and it feels good in my belly and my body. Soulara is the closest I've come to home-delivered plant based meals that transport me straight back to a table overlooking rice paddies and yoga studios. Check out their Instagram for food inspiration.
soulara plant based meals

Common Nutritional Deficiencies In A Vegan Diet

I recently went to the doctor for blood tests and under "Health Conditions" she listed "Vegan". I'm not sure this is typically considered an ailment! However, if you aren't doing your research and maintaining an eye on your calcium, iron and B12 levels, then you'll feel like being a vegan truly is an ailment. Apart from reading as much as you can and educating yourself, it's entirely worth making an appointment with a dietitian or nutritionist who has expertise in vegan or vegetarian diets. They can advise - based on your gender, age, height, weight, general health and level of activity - what your nutritional needs are and how to meet them.
vitamins vegan

The most common nutritional deficiency is B12 because this is purely available in animal based products (meat, seafood, dairy). The most reliable vegan source of B12 is nutritional yeast or fortified milks. Alternatively, a supplement is your best bet. But ignoring B12 is dangerous. B12 is linked to mood, the nervous system and also works co-operatively with B9 (folic acid) to enable optimal absorption of iron. Calcium is vital to healthy bones and muscles. Especially important for women. There are many fortified milks (almond, soy often have "Calcium Fortified" on the label where this is the case). There's no question you can meet your protein requirements easily with soy based proteins such as tofu and tempeh but spirulina, peas, hemp seeds, brown rice and quinoa, chickpeas and beans also provide rich sources of organic protein. Again though, see a dietitian for a personalised plan. Once you know how to meet the requirements of your body, you can confidently go it alone. It's definitely worth telling your GP you are vegan so that they can keep an eye on your blood test results (in the first year, worth doing this every few months).

Supplements

There's a good argument that you can meet your every nutritional need with wholefoods. But since the quality of food, soil and produce is not 100% reliable due to production and farming measures, it's absolutely worth investing in some supplements to ensure you're giving your body every opportunity to be well.
evening primrose oil

I am not a huge fan of turmeric as a flavouring so I'm very happy to take it in supplement form. My pick is Alitura Revitalize which contains ingredients based on Chinese Medicine, Western and Eastern Science. Turmeric, He Shou Wu (iron and zinc), chaga and reishi mushrooms (immune system and anti-ageing properties). I also take Evening Primrose Oil (Sports Research brand) which is rich in healthy fats for glowing skin and is also championed as support for women experiencing painful menstruation. Don't opt for any brand please - if you're going to spend on supplements, make sure you go with a high-quality product that's worth your dollars. I get my vitamins from Vibeality - the best spot to find Sports Research and Alitura brand in Oz. 
alitura


Raw & Organic Vegan Essentials

The raw deal ingredients

Long Jetty in New South Wales has a lot of healthy selling points - the divine yoga studio/cafe Modern Organic as well as the raw and organic food, home and lifestyle store The Raw Deal. Since I'm only in Long Jetty for short stints (unless someone wants to offer me a full time job teaching yoga, writing and blogging?) I do my shopping online. Whether it's bulk chickpeas and lentils or organic almonds and raw cashews, nut milk or superfoods in liquid and powder form, it's all super affordable and the best, freshest quality. Steve who runs things at The Raw Deal is a genuinely good, generous human with the pure desire to bring healthy, chemical free produce and products to his local community and to the wider Australian community via the website. There's a lot to be said for connecting with the people you shop with.
the raw deal natural foods



Surf Star Sally Fitzgibbons on Strength Training, Body Image & Living Well

Sally Fitzgibbons

creamy healthy chicken wrapSally Fitzgibbons is synonymous with surfing. Funnily though, she excelled at athletics, touch football and soccer in her teens. It's fair to say, if it required energy and sportsmanship, Sally was into it and mastering it. I had the pleasure of interviewing her for my iTunes podcast, Core Integrity With Cat, today. In light of her book, Summer Fit All Year Round, which I really enjoyed and am still referring to for recipes and body weight training ideas, I took the opportunity to ask Sally about how the book came to be, the role of athletes and authors in sharing their fitness and nutrition programs and how to do this responsibly.
pesto kaleAs you may suspect of an elite athlete, who rises at 5am to train and has a singular dedication to being the best she can be, Sally is an intelligent and articulate interview subject. She's also funny and energetic and inspiring. I may come to regret this, but I was so enthused by her I agreed to a trade of yoga training for a surf lesson. I fear I'll need more than one!

Here's some recipes from Sally's book. I've posted them as downloadable PDF so you can print and paste up on the fridge! Yes, old school.









Make Friends With Veggies & Kick Sugar To The Curb


We're already in the second week of the New Year - that's approximately 168 hours you've had to lapse on your New Year Resolutions. So, how's that going?

In the first week of January, I asked my barre class, "IF we were making resolutions, which we're not, what would they be?"


The Vegetable Book Recipes
I was surprised that almost everyone said their resolution was to eat less sugar and more vegetables. Surprised, because I love vegetables and find it easy to incorporate them into my daily meals. I suppose I take it for granted that I don't have any desire for sugar either... I think we can change our palate and what we desire to eat when we change our habits with persistent and dedicated focus. Choice by choice. This doesn't mean a life of no joy at all - and certainly, there's a number of naturally sweet foods that are extremely good for you! Some zealous celebrity trainers and insta-nutritionists will carp on about fruit being detrimental to healthy weight and body but that is absolutely baseless and irresponsible. Any food, in excess, isn't healthy. I hate to be boring, but remember that quote, "Eat, not too much. Mostly plants."

Yes. And I'd add to that, ENJOY what you eat because guilt tastes bitter and toxic and no amount of "clean" eating will eradicate that bitterness. 

So, in the spirit of supporting you to get excited about vegetables, here is a recipe from The Vegetable by Caroline Griffiths & Vicki Valsamis (Simon & Schuster). 
Zucchini mint cheese fritters


Raw Is More Recipes
I also want to recommend another book that I received over the holiday period and that I am VERY excited about. Raw Is More by Eccie and Gini Newton (Simon & Schuster). As some of you know, I'm studying to be a Raw Food Chef with the Raw Food Institute of Australia. I get so excited by the amount of delicious and flavourful food that can be prepared and shared: all raw. Anyone who has been to Ubud, Bali has discovered a world of raw, plant based food menus, where colour, freshness, flavour and nutrition are bursting off the plate morning to evening. Bring a bit of that raw, wild, colourful energy into your daily life here.


Just to keep you inspired and dedicated to adding veggies to your day, I've designed you a 7 Day Vegetable Commitment planner! All you need to do is circle at least three vegetables you've eaten that day. It is also a list that gives you a huge range of ideas for when the only idea that vegetable conjures up is brussel sprouts and lettuce. Free download (PDF).




Cut The Caffeine - Why & How

You get up, you have a coffee. Maybe two.
Midway through the working morning, everyone else is having one so why not? It's the communal thing to do. Then maybe one with lunch or even mid afternoon to fight the fuzzy head.

Ultimately, by early evening, you have had anything from 3 to 6 coffees and if you're like me, you feel totally normal, but this is your body on caffeine. It adapts, despite this being a natural drug. A stimulant.

Look, I'm not big on New Year resolutions, but anything that wakes us up and makes us change a habit that is long overdue for change is very welcome. For me, the coffee dependency has to be challenged. Mind you, I'm not going cold turkey! That morning coffee is my kickstart and I'm keeping it. It's the afternoon or even post-dinner coffee (guilty) that really has to go.

I'm not being cruel here - I'm not saying DON'T DRINK COFFEE, WATER IS GOOD. Even though is is. I'm saying, cut the coffee down to one or two a day as a challenge for two weeks. Line up your alternatives and have them at the ready for when you get antsy for a coffee fix. Here's the alternatives and also the reasons you want to join me on the #TwoWeekCoffeeCut


  1. You'll save money. Whatever arguments you come up with (but it's free at work, I buy in bulk, etc, you will still come out on top)
  2. You'll prove to yourself you can break a habit. This is powerful. You build muscles to resist habits and you can flex these muscles again and again
  3. Your hormonal regulation and balance will reset. Caffeine amps up your cortisol level, which not only makes you feel flighty and stressed, but also plays a part in weight gain, anxiety and overall energy. For all that caffeine makes you feel like you can fly, there's an inevitable falling.
  4. Your sleep will improve. This isn't a quick-fix! It will take time for your body to flush the caffeine and adapt to your new habits. Even if you fall asleep at 10pm like a baby, if your caffeine habit is regular, chances are that you wake up throughout the night or feel restless in the early hours.
  5. Lower blood pressure. Your heart won't be working on the double, drugged up on coffee, so your blood pressure will naturally lower. You'll feel calmer.
  6. Weight maintenance. If your coffee comes with a few sugars and milk (or any other fancy flavour additions), these add up if you're doing it several times a day. Studies have proven that sugar & caffeine together make for a potent addiction. 
  7. Cutting preservatives and toxins. Not so much in the organic, fair trade java you buy from your bearded barista each day, but if you have a lust for energy drinks, be aware that they are choc-full of nasty chemicals for flavour and the energy kick (whether it's the full or diet version). Carbonated caffeinated drinks will leave you both anxious, buzzing and also bloated and lethargic.
  8. Happy teeth. A constant coffee habit will inevitably stain your teeth and weaken the enamel. Even if you have an expensive dental whitening, then return to coffee, you'll only be weakening your enamel with a whole load of chemicals and caffeine in unison. Lay off the coffee and amp up your water and milk intake (whatever type of milk you're into).
  9. Happy kidneys and happy bones. Calcium is leached from your bones when you drink caffeine and your kidneys work overtime to flush it out of your system. Not only is calcium vital for strong bones but it is also vital in muscular contractions, enabling you to lift strong, run hard and build muscle.
  10. Discover healthy ways to up your vitamin and minerals & get a natural glow. If you have a green juice or a watermelon juice, or herbal tea instead of coffee, over time you'll find your complexion is much clearer and your hair and skin respond to less caffeine and thus less hormonal and physiological stress. Do it for your face.

  1. Organic herbal tea. My pick is Melbourne based tea gurus, The Loose Lips Tea Co. Everything from sencha green tea to special blends to aid in anxiety, sleeplessness and skin trouble. In the heat of Melbourne summer, I like to make a strong brew then allow it to cool and refrigerate for iced tea. 
  2. Watermelon juice. Throw some chunks of watermelon into a blender and whizz into pink, juicy yumness. Perfect to put into a large thermos for hot days, whether you're on the beach or in the office.
  3. Ginger Beer. Need I say more? If you have a tendency, like I do, to not stop at one, you might want to take my lead and buy the diet version. Keep in mind though, all carbonated drinks are going to make you bloated and damage tooth enamel so keep it to the occasional indulgence!
  4. Vegetable smoothies/juice. An ideal way to get a solid vitamin dose while also staying hydrated, I recommend adding as many greens as possible. I'm not a big fan of kale, but spinach, cucumber, celery with a sweetness hit from carrot and beetroot are always a winner. Add a big chunk of ginger if you like a bit of a zing (who doesn't?)
  5. Kombucha. Whether you make it yourself or buy it (and there's loads of great options in health food stores and at markets), kombucha is a fermented drink that strengthens your gut lining and aids in promoting good bacteria for immune and digestive health.
  6. Milk. Dairy, almond, soy, oat, coconut...whatever you fancy. Ultimately, I recommend going for a milk that has high calcium because your bones and muscles need it. Some almond milks are calcium enhanced - you can always do comparisons using the nutrition table on the back of bottles or cartons. Dairy milk has the highest calcium, and almond and soy milk with higher calcium are good options, but everything else is pretty unimpressive. 
What's are your tips for laying off the coffee? Can you commit to a maximum of two coffees a day before 2pm? Join me - share your tips on instagram, twitter and facebook using #TwoWeekCoffeeCut
The Loose Lips Tea Co Sencha Tea




Beauty & Wellness October Obsessions


Who doesn't need stirrup barre pants, grippy ballet socks, one-piece leotards and flattering, high waisted capri pants in their life? WHO?

I discovered Zakti Activewear via a British Health & Fitness magazine and haven't looked back. Not limited to UK customers, obviously. They have done a brilliant collaboration with dancer Kimberly Wyatt. Ideal for barre, pilates, yoga and dance classes and - bonus! - you won't see 20 women with the same pants as you in class.

Research backs up the many health benefits of fish oil omega 3. It isn't naturally produced by the body and needs to be consumed, either through fatty fish, walnuts (ideal plant based omega 3!) or supplements. BlackMores Fish Oil is my daily joint, skin, heart, gut, muscle and overall wellbeing supplement of choice.

On the path of essential muscle, joint, bone, skin and gut health, did you know elite athletes and ballerinas take collagen supplements? The alternative is bone broth, but a tasteless collagen powder like GelPro Advanced Marine Collagen in your water, nut milk smoothie or even your acai bowl in the morning is an ideal way to boost your protein intake and feed your cells essential nutrients to build and maintain bone, muscle and skin tissue.

Recovery time demands magnesium. This mineral is present in most cell functions within the body so if you are stressed, getting sweaty a lot or post illness, you're likely in need of a magnesium boost. Taking capsules is okay, except that it's likely you're just going to pee them out rather than really benefit. If you apply magnesium as a cream, spray or even soak your feet in a magnesium salt bath, you absorb a great deal more and the massage effect has additional benefits. Go for pure, high grade stuff like Elektra Magnesium Spray & Flakes

Michael Kors Wonderlust because life is too short to stay in one place and also too short to not smell like heaven in a glass bottle. Plus...Christmas Is Imminent. Time to make a wishlist.

BYS Highlight Palette is my key to GLOW - like a beacon of beautiful good health and because a little bit of contouring (not Kardashian level everyday...) will always be welcome.

Sukin Shampoo & Conditioner because this organic company and their products are all about no toxins, no nasties, no animal testing. Also because it's affordable, Australian and gentle on your skin, scalp, hair and the earth.

My Froothie Blender is the B O M B. I can whizz up my protein smoothie in the morning (try roast pumpkin left to cool overnight with cinnamon, almond milk, big spoonful of marine collagen and a little shake of nutmeg) and also make a whole lot of raw food goodies like purees, dips, sauces and even mashed sweet potato and carrot/turmeric soup. Oh the endless possibilities! 900W or go home.

Last, but not least, my bathroom cabinet is a mecca of wonderfulness. At the ready every week is my Medik8 Clay Mask to nix the nasty stress/pollution and sweaty-face spots that occasionally appear. My nails always benefit from a layer of super glam - loving the cult brand Smith & Cult. Because it's a cult thing, and it's the goddess queen that is Kat Von D... on the daily, long lasting lip colour demands Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick (either Lolita or K-Pop).

Boost Your Digestion, Make Your Skin Glow & Power Your Metabolism

Sound too good to be true?
There's no single pill you can take and carry on living exactly as you are if you want to tick the three boxes:
Glowing Skin
Optimal Metabolic Function
Smooth Digestion

It takes time for these processes to heal and alter too, but the habits you start today are going to kick in within months (some of us will feel the effects within days!) and that's one year sooner than if you started next year. If, like me when I'm not being more careful about what ingredients and fitness work for me, you find yourself tired, easily bloated and feeling uninspired, here's my tried and tested methods.

detox digestion health

Detox Your Digestion

I believe in eating with nutritional balance at the core but ensuring that all your meals are foods you really love to eat and that there are no "bad" and "good" foods as long as you know how they make you feel and you're sure to get all the vitamins and minerals you need alongside your macronutrient balance over a week. If you happen to eat sponge cake for dinner now and again it really isn't a drama.
Consider why you make that choice and then when you eat a meal, feel energised and satiated, consider what you could do to make that a regular practice. Have equipment to make all your own juices, smoothies, shakes and condiments. I love Aussie made Froothie (1000W, no messing around here).Filling your pantry with the ingredients to make good meals, setting out a plan at the start of the week so you have everything you need at hand, reading books or magazines that inspire your food choices and exploring new flavours and combinations? I've been reading Paleo magazine for recipes - I am not paleo nor do I advocate any particular regime or take part in any! Their recipes are excellent though and they don't buy into the nutritional table of calories, protein, carbs etc that so many recipes do. It isn't necessary. Eat well, listen to your body and your appetite and get to know what satiates and what leaves you craving (ie. most diet foods and zero calorie beverages!) if you want a sustainably nourishing approach to food and life.
Daily, aim to get a decent serve of high quality protein (whether it's from food or a supplement) to ensure optimal muscle, bone, joint, skin, hair and organ function. I kick start most mornings with a vanilla protein smoothie and almond milk (I love the taste and I choose a high calcium one). Plus a good dose of coffee, black. Not only an energy kick pre-workout but also allows me to pretend to be Italian/French/ miscellaneously Euro.
To ensure you are getting the best out of your diet and that it is digested in such a way that the nutrients aren't wasted, supplement your diet with a probiotic. You may choose - like one friend - to take a big old spoonfull of kimchi daily, but I prefer a high quality pre/probiotic powder supplement. I add it to my protein shake in the morning.
My pantry is stocked with Nature's Sunshine supplements for preventing, treating and strengthening digestion and gut health. I'm as guilty as you are when it comes to overdoing it or allowing stress, poor sleep or jet lag to impact my food choices.
Try Bowel Calm, Activated Charcoal and Slippery Elm Powder. I also swear by Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother!) for the mega dose of protein, enzymes and the energising bitterness at the start of the day and after each meal. My pick is Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar.


skincare quality cosmeceuticals

Use High Grade Cosmeceuticals Alongside Your Usual Skincare

I don't consume many chemicals - my food is majority wholefoods (unprocessed veggies, fruit, seafood, legumes, meat, nut milks) and organic wherever possible. But when it comes to skin, I'm a convert to cosmeceuticals. You can usually only get the best ones in salon and they cost more than your supermarket beauty buys, but they also work. As someone who prizes her skin after teenage years of acne and sunburn, I don't skimp. Totally recommend medik8 for retinol based resurfacing cream (my choice is Retinol 1 TR) and moisturisers (Hydrate 360 please). I'll also be adding the new Dark Circles eye cream to my bedside table... no need to look like I've been tossing and turning for 8 hours!
alpha h cat13gram

Alpha-H does an amazing copper/B vitamin serum that I apply every morning under my moisturiser and makeup.


lean protein health fitness

Maintain A High Quality Protein Intake Daily

Whether you're vegan, vegetarian or happily carnivorous, you must select high quality proteins. This means choosing lean, organic salmon rather than chicken wings deep fried and covered in salt. You want your
proteins to give you bang for their calorific buck, so to speak. Red meat, chicken and legumes are rich in protein. A serve of baked beans or chickpeas is an excellent alternative to meat proteins. While whey and milk-based protein powders are ideal for ultimate calcium and easily-absorbed protein, there's plenty of plant-based proteins that are worthy of cupboard space. Choose powders that have the least amount of ingredients listed and avoid sugar-loaded, toxic tasting candy powders unless you want to bulk up your guts more than your muscles.



crystals rock salt lamps energy
rock salt lamps cat woods

Embrace Rock Salt Lamps & Crystals In Your Home

Sure, I know it sounds all Gwyneth, but I can't tell you how peaceful my space feels when I have my rock salt lamps on and only natural lighting. It feels like bringing an ancient big old chunk of nature into my home. It feels restorative. I have both a 4kg lamp in my bedroom and a smaller sphere that plugs into my laptop USB port and lights up when I'm working.- totally recommended for travel and workplaces.
 Whether you believe the negative ions the salt lamps emit are genuinely beneficial is secondary. Just having that gentle glow emanating near you is calming in itself. My rock salt lamp and a Selenite crystal tower that I keep by my bed for the positive energy it symbolises and channels into my home are from Rock Salt Lamps

Cruelty Free Beauty


Now that the vegan lifestyle is no longer identified with kale-socks-and-sandals and anaemic hippies, there’s a growing curiosity and desire for products that aren’t made of any animal products nor tested on animals. 

Fortunately, there’s no lack of choice and quality in this area. Being vegan can be a challenge when it comes to finding sharp shoes, but when it comes to hair and makeup there’s a treasure trove of brands and products that are guilt-free. Where these brands are not 100% vegan, they are absolutely cruelty free.

INIKA is all organic, all natural Australian makeup. There’s a vast array of mineral eyeshadow shades, certified organic lipstick (Orchid Fields is the perfect shade of violet) and also offers mineral bronzer, foundation, illuminiser and blush. Prefer fluid foundation and in need of an eyebrow pencil? No worries, they’ve got you covered for that too.

Zoeva is high-end makeup (your budget will need to stretch a little here..) and there’s also a range of professional standard makeup brushes. In store, it’s available in Australia via Sephora but there are several online stores that stock it too. While the entire range is not certified vegan, the brushes are synthetic and entirely vegan and every product is 100% cruelty free.

Laura Mercier is entirely cruelty free and does not test products or ingredients on animals. None of their suppliers nor third parties test on animals either. Because Laura Mercier is cruelty free, their products are not sold in China, which requires animal testing on makeup by law. Here’s a hint too...if your favourite brand (perhaps one that has Miley and Lady Gaga in their ads?) is sold in China, there’s a good chance it tests on animals and won’t be ceasing this any time soon.

Kat Von D makeup is not only a cult range fronted by one of the most beautiful, tattooed goddesses on the planet but also entirely vegan.  The liquid lipsticks (especially Lolita) are raved about by makeup artists, instagram makeup stars and beauty lovers internationally. The liquid eyeliners and palettes are one of the top sellers at Sephora both in the US and Australia. While buying Kat Von D makeup won’t guarantee the perfect cat’s eye look, nor that you’ll turn into a 6”4 punk rock goddess, it will allow you to get a small step closer to the dream.
3ina cruelty free beauty

3INA is a Cult Beauty Brand. Three words to send shivers of excitement down the spines of mascara loving maidens and lipstick lovers. 3INA (pronounce it "MEENA") launched in Melbourne in 2016 with stores in Melbourne Central and Soutland. Professional quality Euro-made makeup that doesn't cost your weekly wage. Guaranteed cruelty free, super bold colours and unique collections. The latest UV collection takes on a nightclub attitude under UV lights where it goes all disco under the lights. I love the richly pigmented pink and purple mascaras especially. The Chubby Highlighter is better than two espressos for disguising no sleep. 
elf cosmetics cat woods blog

ELF is the super budget friendly vegan brand you can depend on for all the basics as well as the bells and whistles products. From foundation to concealer, eyeliner to blusher, bronzer and lipstick, ELF products commonly fall into the under $20 basket meaning you can live guilt free and debt free after stocking your makeup cupboard. Beautiful. Literally.



Yoga, Plant Based Eating and Natural Balinese Beauty in Ubud

Plant Based Eating
Plant Based Eating Ubud Bali

On this, my second visit to Ubud in the past five years, I was told over and over again by friends and strangers that I must visit Moksa if I loved raw food. Or even if I didn't know I loved it. 
On their recommendations and with a fierce curiosity, I trekked up Penestanan past Y Resort towards the rice fields and Moksa's incredible permaculture garden and restaurant. I was not disappointed!
Chef Made is a genius, and I don't bestow this claim lightly. I was fortunate to see him at work in the kitchen and when I asked for the recipe for my favourite dish (avocado enchiladas in pumpkin wraps), he sent me the recipe that very evening!
Moksa was founded by Janur and Made after they had worked together at a five-star resort serving raw food in Ubud. With dreams of running their own sustainable farm/cooking school and restaurant, Moksa was the stunning result.
The menu changes seasonally and the space easily accommodates single diners, families, romantic dates and group dinners. With wi-fi and candlelit tables at night, it's not to be missed. Cannot recommend those avocado enchiladas enough. Even if you don't know the slightest thing about raw food, nor plant based food, this is flavourful, decadent food at seriously affordable prices. There's a cookbook coming out this year and I'm hungrily awaiting it. 
Check out their Facebook page for updates and events. Highly recommend enrolling in a class with Chef Made. 

Natural Balinese Beauty
Utama Spice Ubud Bali

There can be no better marketing for Utama Spice than Ria Templer. Her mother began Utama Spice in the 1970s after she had determinedly raised her children and family with traditional Balinese practices regarding natural solutions to skin, health and wellbeing. Using recipes, herbs, spices, fruits and plants to create tailored treatments, it
Utama Spice beauty Bali
wasn't long before her skills and talents spread from friends, family and local community to reach international interest. Soon, she was providing natural, organic skin and body treatments to five-star spas and hotels. Utama Spice provided her with her own business and freedom to create products she knew were essential to wellbeing under her own label. Importantly, Utama Spice employed local women at a time when it as traditional for the man of the house to be the breadwinner and women to stay at home. The business has a renewed vigour and strategy under the loving management of Ria and her partner now. Still producing the highly popular Bug Spray, they also do face, hair and body scrubs, washes and serums. I made my own lemongrass, ginger and bergamot scent and can also vouch the Yoga Spray is THE BEST. I recommend visiting the store but you can also find the products at Yoga Barn, Bali Buda and other quality yoga, organic and natural produce venues around Ubud. 
Go to the Utama Spice website for stockists, story and product info.

Yoga
Yoga Barn Bali

Yoga Barn runs yoga and lifestyle classes throughout the day, every day. The Ecstatic Dance evening has a queue for hours before it begins so if you are inclined to truly get your yoga groove on, get there early! I was fortunate to try Vinyasa Flow with fabulous Nadine and also a really creative, flowy and strong Vinyasa Flow with Murni.
The OMG? OMG! I'll be borrowing that one for my own classes.
I also tried classes I never normally would have if not for the fact I was at a loose end and it was a convenient time. Shamanic Healing which honestly, I wouldn't recommend with the teacher who I experienced BUT still an interesting experience and certainly you meet a lot of international yogis and wellness warriors so that's worth the entry price and more.
I also did Iyengar Yoga with Christine who studied under the late, great Iyengar himself. She is a complete treasure chest of knowledge on the body and yoga. The concept of movement that focuses on joint integrity and health with the AID of muscles rather than a muscular focus really got me thinking about where to place the focus and intention when moving and teaching. Recommend you try this long-time Ubud venue before trekking elsewhere. And Denise Payne is unmissable. Make sure you get to her Yin and Power Yoga. All teachers listed here.




Instructing Versus Teaching: Delivering Lessons That Last Beyond Class

In over 12 years of group fitness training and personal training, I have come to recognise the vital role an instructor can play in delivering lessons that go beyond the hour you spend with students. It is the difference between instructing while holding attention for a single class, and delivering knowledge that lasts a lifetime.
A teacher has many opportunities throughout class, and via social media, newsletters, online videos and digital channels, where they can sow a seed of curiosity, build a relationship with students and instil appreciation for our bodies. Instructors can also play a part in cultivating mental strength and resilience, the ability to take ownership of our fitness, and our cognitive processes around movement, mobility and endurance.

After two recent classes, the highly skilled and highly respected teachers admitted to me that they worried they may have spoken too much or used anatomical terms or energetic cues that might be “too much” for participants. In fact, I have learned that many – perhaps all – students attend group fitness classes because they ARE curious about their own bodies, they ARE passionate about movement and fitness; they want to know more. People don’t necessarily need to understand the myofascial system or the insertion and origin of muscles to fully appreciate when you tell them to work the full range of a muscle or give a cue regarding physical or energetic systems of the body (ie: in yoga, relating the breath or areas of the body to their spiritual or traditionally held beliefs around where emotions are held or the spiritual aspects of breath relating to movement).

Spark curiosity.

Sow a seed that enables the curious students to consider. Don’t be afraid to share what you know and to do so confidently and invite interest.
There will always be instructors who have 10 years more experience than you. There will always be instructors who are labelled “Master” instructors in what they do, but that doesn’t mean your experience and knowledge and particular approach is not relevant, meaningful and impactful. When you enter the room as an instructor, you are charged with the responsibility and credibility to teach what you believe is right and valid. Just as in any discipline from quantum physics to medicine to sculpture, there are constant discoveries and developments so it is only natural that there are differences between teachers as to approach and ideas.  As long as you can explain the what, how and why, you are doing your job.
fitness instruction inspiration

What: The movement, sequence or pose (ie. Wide squat)
How: The cues, alignment and technique (ie. Stand with heels outside hips, sit weight back and down with knees wide)
Why: The purpose and benefit of the move (ie. To work the glutes, postural chain of muscles, engage strong thighs and challenge core strength and raise the heart rate)
Think about your role as a value proposition. There are thousands of instructors who could teach under the same label (yoga, pilates, BodyPump, step, etc) but what experiences have you had, and what particular strengths and interests can you share and communicate with your class? Have you rehabilititated your body after an injury? Have you found a particular cue or mental focus during exercise really invigorates and motivates your own activity? Share that. Students want to connect with you. Let them!

Think of different classes as being like different languages. While each language, from Japanese to Inuit, has its own rhythm, sound, cadence and calibre there are universal laws of communication. Listen to the people you’re speaking to, measure your expression and delivery for your audience, consider what your body language says just as much as what you’re saying, and pay attention to the timing, volume and message of your words and actions.

Find the right balance though and take into consideration the different venues and classes you take. There is definitely no place for “over-sharing” or giving lectures as if it’s an Anatomy 101 class, unless of course you are taking a specific workshop or advanced class that is prepared and open to this sort of teaching. Consider context and circumstances, always.
There is a balance to be found between giving the standard instructions (timing, direction, alignment) and then building the blocks that really deepen the effectiveness of your teaching and the actual structure and sequence of your class.

This is where you develop your teaching beyond the a) What; and
b) How;
to explain the essential Why.

Why does a particular pose or sequence work? Which muscles are being activated and what role do they play both in the class and then in life? Why does it matter to have strong glutes?
Armature Pilates owner, Pilates teacher trainer and herself an instructor, Stephanie Glickman identifies an “ability to keep a large and diverse group  moving and in good form with attentive and individual correction” as a skill key to memorable and inspiring instructors.
“It’s important that an instructor is able to give constructive feedback and cueing because they have a good eye, not just saying “good work” all the time...but giving corrections that the client wouldn’t get elsewhere,” she elaborates.

The key to having a good eye can come back to having a strong commitment to your job but also, importantly, your own personal practice and experience.
Good instructors “have their own solid personal practice and commitment to what they are teaching; they truly know and understand the work in their bodies themselves,” Glickman says.

She nominates the following qualities as those that make a teacher stand out from the rest:
  • relates to clients personally - knows everyone's names, asks how they are, remembers their "issues" and injuries and is attentive to them; goes up to clients they don't know and talks to them, finds out about who they are and what they need
  • technically clear and accurate cueing, not too complex to be confusing but still challenging exercises
  • considered pace and control of exercises throughout class
  • programming that considers participants' weaknesses, make them do things they need but may not like
  • a mix of giving the clients what they need and what they want
  • making clients feel good about themselves and excited to come back to class
  • friendly, nice, humble, not rude, pretentious or precious

Glickman also emphasises the importance of knowing your own strengths and interests so that you can master what you’re especially good at rather than trying to cover all the bases or mimic other instructors. Her essential lessons for instructors seeking to elevate their “instructor” role to “Teacher” as follows:
  • Find your own "thing"/style/way of teaching and just stick to that and keep improving on that; don't be pressured to follow fads or trends
  • err on the side of solid basics rather than high complexity and try to extract the best from your clients without over cueing or correcting them or making them feel overwhelmed
  • have your "set" things that you know work that you can always draw on and then add to that more creative  or different things
  • have some jokes up your sleeve
  • don't wear low waist leggings and demonstrate cat stretch - embarrassing wardrobe malfunction!




Goodness From Goop : Gwyneth, Guts, and Clean Beauty


Look, let's not live in dreamland. Goop has gotten a lot of hate over its lifetime and I am the most sceptical of all about celebrities touting wellness brands and books. In fact, I believe there are several lines across my forehead that are totally down to grimacing with every new celebrity "how to be well" glossy hardback. BUT.

But.
Goop Clean Beauty (Hachette Australia, Hardback RRP $45; eBook RRP $19.99) really is full of good, substantive advice and knowledge. Gwyneth hasn't written some "drink juice for 20 days, do yoga and you'll look like me!" style tome. Thank goodness. It's actually wry, real and it asks the leading experts in the fields of dermatology, dietetics and digestive health, fitness training, yoga and beauty manufacturing for their opinions and real life advice. Of course, the photos are fabulous. It's a good looking book, but let's face it, you don't buy a book on beauty if you don't value good looks, right?

What I also love about this book is that it doesn't have a holier-than-thou approach to all aspects of beauty. We all want to look and feel as great as we can. That means we can eat an abundance of organic foods and use only all-natural beauty products but we can also accept that age inevitably means a loss of fullness and wrinkles. Some people embrace this fully and accept it. Some of us think we wouldn't mind using the beauty of science and technology to do some plumping and freezing IN MODERATION for a natural lifting effect. The book goes through these options - including Botox, fillers, thread lifts, plasma and stem cell injections and so on. There is a no-judgement approach. I like that. There is an emphasis on being careful in selecting a practitioner and in starting small and maintaining your natural appearance only improved rather than going for a dramatic overhaul. Wise.
gwyneth paltrow tracy anderson

Here's some quick, simple "I Can Do That!" inspiration from the editors of goop.

A detox of your life does not mean you need to rule out everything that gives you some joy. It is not an abstinence regime that is only bearable for a week before you throw yourself into a weeping, wailing despair that can only be healed with organic dark chocolate and cacao smoothies. A detox rules out the most likely culprits for inflammation of the gut - which is most likely the origin of other health and beauty concerns from acne to mood swings to poor sleep, bloating, sensitive sinuses and hair thinning or loss. Here are the rules of Clean Eating according to Dr Alejandro Junger and it is recommended you follow for at least 10 days. After that time, try introducing what you really want to back to your life gradually to see if it may be the cause of mood, skin, hair or digestive problems.

No alcohol
No caffeine
No dairy
No eggs
No beef or pork
No raw fish or shellfish
No gluten
No soy
No nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers/capsicum)
No strawberries, oranges, grapefruits, grapes or bananas
No corn
No white rice
No added sugar
No peanuts (all other nuts totally fine!)
No processed oils or butters (stick to nut-based oils and coconut oil)

Before you have a breakdown thinking you'll need to eat apples and kale for 10 days, there's pages and pages of delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner meals and they are all simple, doable and delish.

After you've committed to 10 days minimum of avoiding common inflammatory foods, here's some of the other recommended detox tips and consider this, the body DOES have natural detoxifying tools in the liver and kidney but any way you can optimise their functioning and decrease the amount of pollution internally and externally, the greater energy your body can devote to absorbing the good nutrients you're filling it with and to fuelling your brain, skin, muscles, hair and nervous system. Nobody is toxin free - it's a matter of how well we can manage our own system of detoxifying to feel, look and live as purely and well as possible.

Sweat.
Yup, get yourself into an infrared sauna and sweat it out. This is a highly effective means of sweating out heavy metals as well as providing benefits in alleviating arthritis, musculoskeletal ailments and increasing endorphins (feel good hormones). Wheher it's 10 or 30 minutes, try to get into a regular practice. A regular sauna will do.

Exercise.
Moving fluid through the lymphatic system supports the immune system by filtering out toxins and avoiding retention and lethargy. Exercise also boosts happy hormones, enables us to challenge ourselves physically and mentally, provides an opportunity to do something healthy and fun with people we know or to make new friends. Weight-bearing exercise also builds bones, muscle and enables our bodies o function healthier well into old age.

Meditate.
Calm the mind. Bring yourself into the present. Find a sense of peace that isn't dependent on anyone or anything external.

Get On A Foam Roller.
Get your fascia flexible. Many instructors and personal trainers I know swear by the foam roller as a regular part of their fitness routine. Sure, it can be deeply uncomfortable, especially if you have a tendency towards really tight muscles or you rarely stretch. It's entirely worth it. It is vital to stretch, lengthen and release tightness in the muscles to avoid that tension becoming habitual or loading the joints because the muscles that should be doing the work are too fatigued, overworked or dysfunctional to do their job. Hit up google and youtube - there's loads of guidance online as to how to use a roller.

Sleep.
Everyone knows this - just as you have a routine for beauty, fitness, travelling to and from work daily, so you must have a routine for sleep. Switch off social media at least an hour before bed and if you are panicking over something, write it down and know you can deal with it in the morning.

Try Yoga Nidra.
"Psychic sleep" is an ancient practice that deeply restores, relaxes and rejuvenates the body. It is a guided relaxation wherein you don't actually sleep as the mind is still active, but the body completely melts into blissful quiet. Try downloading Kirit Thacker, head of yoga at Ananda Ayurvedic spa in India.
Also try Elena Brouwer's 10 minute version from Yoga Journal.


Gut Microbiota And Your Health


I recently had the opportunity to interview Professor Margaret Morris, Head of Pharmacology at the University of New South Wales. She and her colleagues are involved in some extremely relevant and fascinating research into the role of the gut bacteria in regulating weight, mood, overall health and how this research might apply to treating obesity and major illness and disease. While there is still much to be discovered and investigated, there is also much to be excited about.
Essentially, if you are eating a balanced, healthy diet rich in complex carbohydrates, unprocessed foods including plenty of veggies and fruit (organic is ideal!) and meats, fish, tofu, soy and legumes then you're setting up your guts and your body for optimum fitness, stable energy and mood and an overall more happy, healthy life.
The good news is - though it takes time for change to show definite, measurable results in regards to weight, mood and wellbeing, it doesn't matter how old you are, how active you currently are or how often you dine on Krispy Kremes at this point. You can make small changes from today and see results over time and you can change your guts, you can change your whole life for the better.

My interview with Margaret is a podcast on iTunes or free stream on Soundcloud.

Cat:  For those new to the term, what is the gut microbiota?

The term refers to the suite of organisms that reside inside our gastrointestinal tract (gut).  There are many bacteria in our intestine and colon, that number in the trillions.  In fact the number of bacteria outnumber the number of cells in our  body!

Bacteria is usually a word associated with germs and dirtiness. Can you explain the role of bacteria in the gut and why the term “bacteria” is not referring only to the “bad” bacteria?

The bacteria in our gut perform a wide range of functions, and in fact, they are required for a healthy gut. Some of the functions include- They are harvesting nutrients from food; vitamin production; maintaining a healthy lining of the inside gut wall; healthy immune function.

How long have you been working in the field of gut microbiota and its role in health?

I have been working on obesity for 20 years, focusing on how the brain regulates appetite (and what goes wrong in the face of unlimited palatable food) and more recently began to examine the changes in gut microbiota profile  across a range of  interesting experimental models  that we have – so about 4 years.

What are the most exciting studies you’ve been involved with lately and what do they show us about lifestyle choices affecting gut microbiota and overall health?

We are very excited by our research in animals into the link between cafeteria diet induced changes in memory, and the effect on the gut microbiota.  Consumption of an unhealthy diet (e.g. high in saturated fat, high sucrose, low in fibre) is associated with less diversity in the bacteria in the gut - so-called ‘dysbiosis’ -  and we found that the reduction in cognitive function was linked to changes in certain types of bacteria.  This means that in the future, we may be able to introduce the missing bacteria to improve cognition.

What role does the gut bacteria play in regulating mood and could studies lead to better treatment of depression, psychiatric illness and sleep problems such as insomnia and apnoea? Could these studies also mean that there will be preventative approaches & holistic non-pharmacological interventions provided by the educational, government and healthcare industries in future?

Evidence suggest that the composition of the gut microbiota is altered in people  with mood disorders  (although the issue of causality arises here).  In terms of using knowledge about the gut microbiota to more effectively treat certain disorders, there is a precedent for this with some serious infections of the gut. I can refer your listeners to our piece in The Conversation.

Other work of Pedersen et al, Nature 2016 has shown that the microbiota may  be very relevant to insulin sensitivity, leading to the conclusion that ‘Our findings suggest that microbial targets may have the potential to diminish insulin resistance and reduce the incidence of common metabolic and cardiovascular disorders', so  I think there will be future developments in this space.

How is the medical and health industry (private and public) as well as government responding to your studies and conclusions around dietary, behavioural and lifestyle choices in overall health of children and adults?

No formal responses from government -  but interest from the scientific community.  And we have funding to continue  some of this work.

Can you explain the link between the intestinal function and cognition and memory? What does this say about memory, learning and how it is related to diet?

There are a range of studies demonstrating a link between a healthy diet and memory and learning.  Many of these are observational -  they study a large number of people and look for associations between diet and brain function. Some studies have shown that various food patterns  are linked to poorer cognition,  or greater cognitive decline over time.  Clearly it is time-consuming and difficult to conduct this type of work -  and showing a cause-effect relationship is challenging.  However on balance, there does appear to be evidence for poor diet linking with poorer function, and possibly brain changes  (e.g. smaller hippocampus).

How does a high fibre diet affect the gut microbiota and what sort of foods are ideal to add or increase in the diet?

Diets that are rich in plant fibre are generally good for the gut microbiota.

Have studies into omega 3 (and healthy fats found in nuts, fish, avocado and seeds) shown to have a positive effect on hormones and the gut microbiota?

Yes, omega 3 in the diet can influence the makeup of the gut microbiota, so this may explain some of the benefits of  eating foods that are  rich in omega 3.  In humans there is evidence that low omega 3 is linked to increased risk of depression.
See ‘Role of Omega-3 fatty acids in the etiology, treatment, and prevention of depression: Current status and future directions’ Robert K. McNamara;  Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism 5 (2016) 96e10.

While highly processed carbohydrates such as those in white bread, donuts, chips and takeaway burgers are well known to be “unhealthy” choices, it is also unhealthy to cut whole food groups. As an active person, what carbohydrates are healthy choices for balancing the gut microbiota?

Generally complex carbohydrates that are unprocessed  are best – these include whole grains, oats and the like.  Refined sugars are less helpful. In fact, we observed changes in gut biota and impaired memory in animals that are eating a healthy diet,  but supplementing that with high sugar intake.
Of course, small amounts of refined sugar are probably ok and  it is important to enjoy food  and eating with friends…

Agreed that the importance of sharing meals and enjoying food is vital so the occasional donut or Tim Tams with the workmates should not be declined or denied!

What role does the timing of meals have in regulating gut microbiota and how can people use this to their advantage? For example, many people skip breakfast or eat smaller lunches to excuse late night snacking.

Not much know (I believe)  regarding impact of meal timing on the microbiota – it is an interesting question.

What current studies are under way and what do you hope to see as far as investment in this area from public and private government and health investors?

We have a range of studies underway -   for instance, we are interested in the effect of exercise on the gut microbiota (even in the face of an unhealthy diet)  as well as the impact of probiotics on gut microbiota and memory.

Holiday Gift Guide for Wellness, Fitness and Beauty Addicts

Who doesn't have that last minute panic of What On EARTH Do I Give Jane, Rosie, Steph...etc? Here's the simple, straightforward guide to what's out there that makes a great gift for the wellness oriented pals in your life.

Bobbi Brown Wine & Chocolate Nail & Palettes

It used to be very much that makeup and beauty and supplements were all about what you don't have, what you want to conceal, what you are deeply lacking and need to spend all your hard earned moolah on to ensure you are fulfilled.

In fact, many brands and media still push this idea.

Thankfully, there are some brands out there with a message that is really positive. Sure, they're still selling you things, but there is not that toxic message that you need this because you are inherently lacking and this is the answer.


The latest collection is Wine & Chocolate. Divine, of course! A full range of eyeshadows, lipsticks, blush and to-die-for nail hues in beige, crimson, grape, chocolate and ballet pink. I'm obsessed with nail polish in Chocolate and brightening blush in Pink Truffle.

Onzie Activewear

Made in LA by yoga devotees FOR yoga devotees. I have Onzie leggings and capris that I still wear daily after 5 years and they look exactly as they did when I first wore them. These aren't 3-wears-and-a-wash style activewear that quickly gets consigned to the donation bin. 
There's an all new collection just out for men and women - that's right! Onzie has a men's range and a children's range so you could dress your family, friends and workmates in matching outfits.

My hopes are entirely pinned on those leopard shaper leggings. A burgundy open back hoodie? I wouldn't say no, Santa.

philosophy Fragrance

Every year, philosophy releases limited edition Christmas bath and body goodies which are beautiful to look at and divine to smell. The tried and true longstanding favourite of mine and many others is amazing grace. The box features the philosophy behind the name and the fragrance and on opening, there's a little message: "believe in miracles".
I love being reminded of this each time I go to spritz it on and I do think to myself - be amazingly graceful!



House of Matcha tea

What an awesome discovery THIS has been! House of Matcha does high-grade matcha green tea. It is neon, kryponite coloured and the special set comes with a whisk, bowl and an easy-to-follow set of instructions for preparing your matcha. The preparation is key.
The limited edition gift set is the perfect present for the dedicated matcha lover or your friend, mother, daughter, husband who is all about wellness but hasn't discovered the deep joy of matcha green tea powder. I drink it as a tea and also use the powder as a seasoning for fish and vegetable dishes. I've also seen it used to flavour smoothies and chia seed pudding. Get creative! As they say, "800 years of Japanese practice and perfection" is pretty reliable.


Fresh Fit Food: Which Meal Delivery Services I Recommend


I know how to cook, prepare and serve delicious, nutritious meals.
I can also talk macronutrients, energy, allergies, vitamins and minerals.
In short, I'm not in the dark when it comes to food and how to look after myself. There are other reasons for using a meal delivery service.

Good Reasons To Use Meal Delivery:

  • Being caught up in a hectic, unpredictable time where shopping, planning meals and feeding yourself and your family or housemates just isn't possible (ie. new job, illness in the family)
  • Experiencing injury or illness that can sap you of energy and the physical ability to get out and about to shop and then to do the preparations also.
  • Feeling caught in a rut and eating the same meals over and over again
  • Struggling to find inspiration for new ideas at meal times and wanting a kick in the butt
  • Curiosity
Why I Use Meal Delivery

I am guilty of being caught in eating the same meals all the time because it's easy. I know exactly what I need to buy in advance, I know how long it takes me to prepare and I know I like it. Only, I get so bored and if I'm bored, so is my body! Variety - just as in the classes you do, the friends you have, the places you go - is fuel for the soul. The body also benefits in every way from a variety of flavours, nutrients and just the mental effect of discovering something different and inspiring.

Which Meal Delivery Service To Use

There's already some really great services that deliver around Australia, and there are new ones popping up every week. This is both fabulous and also overwhelming if you're not sure where to start or you've had a bad experience. 
I've used the following and I highly recommend them. None of them require contracts or an ongoing relationship. You can order a one-time-only delivery and never do so again if you want!




This is for the person too busy to shop but not completely inept in the kitchen. This is for people who enjoy the preparation factor, but don't want to walk through supermarket aisles for the sake of a few meals. The box arrived for me on Tuesday morning (delivered silently in the very early hours of morning!) and had each meal packaged in a separate large paper bag.

In the box, recipe cards that described the preparation of each meal including cooking and prep time. I was provided herbs, flavourings, raw ingredients and ultimately, I had to cook and prepare. The great thing about this is that I felt like I had control over the level of flavouring I could add, and I could be a little creative as far as presentation and making any little adjustments like changing the choice of herbs or adding different vegetables.

I heartily recommend the chicken and fish meals as well as the superb Superfoods Veggie Bowl. I did add extra protein to this one but if you didn't, it's ideal for vegans and vegetarians.

Marley Spoon




Kate Save is a clinical dietitian with a true passion for food and it shows in the delicious menu options she offers. She designs meals with a real focus on balanced amounts of protein, carbs, vitamins and micronutrients to ensure hormonal balance, weight control and VERY importantly, flavour. From frittata to curries, chunky soups, chia pods, protein ball snacks through to vegetarian friendly tofu dinners, there is no skimping on quality and yumminess.

Kate has worked with eating disorders, obesity, diabetes, juveniles and adults in her clinical role of dietitian and it was this, combined with her genuine love for preparing healthful, flavourful foods, that acted as the catalyst to start her own business. She has raised her children on these same meals and it is imperative to her that they are well fed, nourished and loved. This comes across in the food that arrives on my doorstep. It is full of flavour, perfectly balanced for a fit and weight-conscious individual, and also full of love and soul. There is nothing dry and boring about Kate's meals and even though they are perfectly measured as far as macronutrients (safe for anyone looking to lose or maintain weight), there is nothing boring about Kate's menu.

You can put in an order as late as Sunday evening and be assured of delivery the following Tuesday - everything is prepared and delivered fresh and clearly labelled.

I totally recommend the chia puddings - in fact, I'd put in an order for these alone! - and the frittata with kale and chickpeas. Delicious. Definitely don't skip the Berry Bliss Chia Pudding and the Blueberry with Chia Seeds.
I also loved the South American Chilli Beef And Beans for lunch on the go.

Be Fit Food


My Muscle Chef was the very first meal delivery service I tried and it is not at all what I feared it might be: tiny portions of NASA-grade food for body sculptors who subsist on a couple of almonds and a lettuce leaf. THANKFULLY these are divinely tasty and the fact they are energy-controlled and designed with the ideal ratio of protein to carbs is an afterthought once you dig the fork in. The meals range from vegetarian through to kangaroo, fish, chicken and beef.
I'm a big fan of the kangaroo with brown rice. It's so easy to overcook and dry out kangaroo meat but this is perfectly prepared and delivered for maximum flavour and texture. I admit, the meals are not nearly as big as I need for dinner. As a lunch option, perfectly portioned. I add nuts, extra rice and loads of vegetables to the dinner portion and occasionally, extra protein depending on my appetite. They deliver weekly to Melbourne and Sydney.

My Muscle Chef

Other delivery services I recommend trying include Aussie Farmers Direct, Woolworths Online and Nourished Life for supplements and healthy meal preparation tools.

Be Truly Well and Truly Fit - Free Download

If you have decided - especially coming up to the end of one year and the beginning of another, that now is the time to overhaul your mindset and to embrace a life of being well and fit, I can't do it for you. But I can give you the tools to make it happen. 
I'll be creating some free workout guides in the coming weeks, but this is the ideal place to start. With reflection and setting your intention.

Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook Allergen Free Treats

Another afternoon, another 3.30pm "WHERE ARE THE TREATS" dilemma.

Never fear. I bring treats with nutritional credit so you can feel satisfied AND highly self-righteous. And who doesn't need a bit of that during the mid-afternoon crawl to the finish line?
Coming to you from The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott (Murdoch Books) - I know, it sounds very Pete Evans, hipster Crossfit what-have-you, but once you get beyond the title, the recipes are fabulous. Everything from salad to post-workout snack to dinner for 10.

Here's two of the fabulous finds - my favourites. I hope you love them and share them. I highly recommend popping the fig balls in a tupperware container and keeping in the fridge at work. They also make for some very happy post-school snack time and school fete fare.

FIG ENERGY BITES

Time: 1 hour
Yield: 16 Bites
Tools: Food Processor

370 g unsulphured dried figs
130 g fine shredded coconut, divided (unsweetened)
80 ml coconut oil, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt

1 Place the figs, 100 g of the coconut, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and pulse on and off until a thick paste forms (you may have to stop and scrape the sides of your food processor a couple of times).

2  Form into 2.5 cm balls, then roll them in the reserved 30 g of shredded coconut.

3  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the coconut oil set.

Note: Feel free to play around with the dried fruit in this recipe-—dates, dried apples and apricots are all good substitutions for the figs.

Storage: Keeps for a week or two stored in the refrigerator. Also freezes well.

SEARED BROCCOLINI WITH COCONUT BASIL PESTO


Time: 30 Minutes
Serves: 4

2 tablespoons solid cooking fat
450 g broccolini, washed, ends of stems removed
4 cloves garlic, minced
250 ml Coconut-Basil Pesto (page 124)

1 Heat the cooking fat in a large frying pan on high heat. When the fat has melted and the pan is hot, sear the broccolini for a couple of minutes on each side. Turn the heat down to medium, add the garlic and let cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, or until the broccolini is tender.

2 Serve with coconut pesto drizzled over the top.

Storage: Keeps well in the refrigerator.


coconut-Basil Pesto

Time: 15 Minutes
Yield: 375 mls

125 ml coconut water or filtered water
100 g fresh basil leaves
60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
4 cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
2–3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar
1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
A few sprigs of fresh mint

1 Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high for 15 seconds, stopping to scrape the sides if needed. If you want a smoother pesto, continue to blend until desired consistency is reached.

Variation: Use apple cider or coconut vinegars and add sea salt to taste, as those vinegars are not as salty as the plum.

Storage: Keeps for a couple of days, sealed, in the refrigerator.

Real Delicious Food

Too often in fitness and in food, there is a message from media, friends, family, personal trainers, supermarkets and pretty much everyone, that you need to follow a specific plan.

Usually, a specific plan that reaps plenty of money and devotion to a brand or individual. Drink our shakes! Purchase our appliances! Follow our instagram! And so forth.

What if you really considered what foods you like, what makes you feel good, what enables you to feel energetic enough to do what you have to do and what do you have the time and the enthusiasm to prepare?

I do have some paleo cookbooks and some raw food and vegan ones. I am not paleo, raw foodist or vegan. I think they have some fabulous recipes and I absolutely respect their ethos. I just know that I find I need animal based protein to feel truly satiated and energised.

I want to share some of the awesome books that are giving me recipe and happy, healthy food love at the moment. They are beautiful to look at and the recipes are not complex. They are not pushing a regimen on you - there's no self righteous eat THIS and NOT THAT! There's just a genuine celebration of flavour, fresh food and great combinations. Divided up between salads, main meals, sweet options and side dishes. Here's the lowdown on Real Delicious and Deliciously Ella.

Real Delicious by Chrissy Freer (Murdoch Books) is fabulous. The images are gorgeous - but don't be fooled by all the colour and prettiness - the recipes are simple and really good for both singles, small groups of friends and also feeding the whole family. Here are two of my must-try recipes: Japanese Pancakes and Fish and Sweet Potato

Japanese pancakes with mushrooms and chicken
Filled with shredded vegetables, minced lean chicken and protein-packed eggs, this version of a Japanese pancake makes a nutritious and filling lunch or light dinner. In Japan it’s traditionally served with mayonnaise, but I prefer to skip this in favour of a little sweet soy sauce and some salad leaves.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Makes 8


75 g (23/4 oz/1/2 cup) wholemeal spelt flour or plain (all-purpose) flour
3 eggs
11/2 tablespoons peanut or  macadamia oil
200 g (7 oz) minced (ground) chicken  or pork 
150 g (51/2 oz) mushrooms,  finely chopped 
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
130 g (41/2 oz/13/4 cups) shredded  savoy cabbage 
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
Sweet soy sauce, for drizzling
2 teaspoons sesame seeds,  lightly toasted
Sliced spring onions (scallions),  to serve
Baby kale leaves, to serve

Whisk together the flour, eggs and 80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) cold water until smooth. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the chicken and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until browned. Add the mushrooms, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool completely.

Stir the chicken mixture, cabbage and carrot into the egg batter.

Heat half the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium–high heat. Ladle 1/2 cup of batter per pancake into the pan  and spread out to 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. Cook for 3 minutes each side  or until golden. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while you cook  the rest, adding a little more oil when necessary.

Serve the pancakes drizzled with a little sweet soy sauce and scattered with the sesame seeds, spring onions and kale leaves.

Fish and sweet potato cakes with dill dressing
These fish cakes are made with mashed sweet potato instead of regular potato, and they’re coated in wholegrain oats instead of breadcrumbs. I love using sweet potato because it doesn’t need any butter or salt to taste great. It has a lower GI than regular potato and it’s packed with the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Preparation time: 20 minutes,  plus 30 minutes chilling
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

400 g (14 oz) orange sweet potato,  cut into 3 cm (11/4 inch) dice
400 g (14 oz) firm white fish fillets
4 spring onions (scallions),  finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 long red chilli, seeded and  finely chopped
100 g (31/2 oz/1 cup) rolled  (porridge) oats
1 tablespoon olive or macadamia oil
Baby English spinach leaves, to serve

Dill dressing
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon salted baby capers, rinsed and chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of caster (superfine) sugar

Steam the sweet potato in a steamer over simmering water for  12 minutes or until tender. Drain, mash roughly with a fork and cool.

Steam the fish in a steamer over simmering water for 6–8 minutes  or until just cooked through. Set aside to cool, then flake with a fork.

Combine the sweet potato, fish, spring onion, herbs, lemon zest and chilli in a large bowl. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Form the mixture into eight 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick patties.

Place the oats on a large plate. Press each fish cake into the oats  to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm.

Combine all the ingredients for the dill dressing.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat and cook the fish cakes for 2–3 minutes each side or until golden brown, adding a little extra oil if necessary. Serve with spinach leaves and dill dressing.

TIP
Young children love these fish cakes, but you might need to leave out the chilli.
Recipes and images from Real Food by Chrissy Freer (Murdoch Books)


Deliciously Ella Every Day (Hachette) is exactly what it promises: simple recipes from wholefoods that are totally delicious. Some of you have followed Ella's blog and she has a massive social media following. You don't need to be familiar or a fan to find this recipe book totally reliable and enjoyable though. In fact, I am blissfully new to Ella and her wholefood approach. I love it though and want to share some of my fave recipes with you. Enjoy!

Pad Thai

Such a delicious dish, I think it may end up being a favourite recipe for lots of you... it’s certainly very popular in my house! It’s inspired by a recipe that a friend sent to me; I fell in love with it and adapted it over time to create this version. The sauce is definitely my favourite part, as it’s so incredibly rich with the most amazing array of flavours.

Serves 2

For the noodles
2 large courgettes
2 large carrots
100g buckwheat noodles
1 red pepper, cut into very thin strips 
handful of sesame seeds
30g cashew nuts 
10g fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

For the sauce
8 tablespoons olive oil
15g bunch of fresh coriander
3 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon tamari
juice of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Peel the courgettes, then use a vegetable peeler to peel the flesh into strips around the core. I normally discard the seedy centres, as they’re hard to peel. Do the same with the carrots.

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Simply place everything into a blender or food processer with 9 tablespoons of water and whizz until smooth.

Once the noodles have cooked, drain them and let them cool for a few minutes.

Place the noodles, carrots, courgettes, pepper, sesame seeds and cashews in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix everything together, then sprinkle the mint on top.

Cauliflower Pizza

Makes 2 large pizza crusts / Serves 4–6
4 tablespoons chia seeds
2 cauliflowers (about 1kg), roughly chopped
200g Apple Purée (page 40)
300g brown rice or buckwheat 
flour
juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons tamari
salt
4 teaspoons dried oregano
4 teaspoons dried basil

For the toppings, I like:
tomato purée
sliced tomatoes
canned sweetcorn
sliced mushrooms
fresh basil leaves
handful of rocket 
salt and pepper
olive oil

Place the chia seeds in a bowl with 280ml of water. Leave for 10–15 minutes, until the chia has formed a gel.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C).

Place the cauliflower in a food processor and blend it until a flour-like substance forms; this should take about a minute (you may need to do this in 2 batches). Place in a nut milk bag (page 53) and knead out excess water: it may take a few minutes but it’s a really important step, so please don’t skip it!

Add the cauliflower to a mixing bowl with the chia and apple purée and stir until blended. Mix in the flour, lemon juice, tamari, salt and dried herbs. Slowly pour in 150ml of ice-cold water, using your hands to mix it to a sticky dough. Divide the dough into 2 pieces.

Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment and spread each piece of dough out over it, to form a pizza base. Bake the crusts for 20–30 minutes.

Once they are firm and slightly crispy, add the tomato purée and your toppings (except any basil or rocket), then cook for another 5–10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, the leaves, if using, and a drizzle of olive oil, then slice and serve!

Kitchen Know-How
I know it sounds strange to tell you to take the water out of the cauliflower and then add more water to the mix, but – trust me – it’s vital for the recipe to work, as it means you get exactly the right amount of liquid needed for the crust to bake properly.

These recipes are from Deliciously Ella Every Day by Ella Woodward, published by Hachette Australia RRP $29.99.